Tagged Questions

Questions pertaining to characteristics of armed forces' structure, manpower, equipment, or expenditures.

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1answer
1k views

Were the “hussars” that Jan Sobieski used at the battle of Vienna actually elite troops?

Apparently, the decisive blow at the 1683 Battle of Vienna was struck by Jan Sobieski, with only 3,000 "hussars" (cavalry). This seems a bit hard to believe, given that the Turkish army had about ...
7
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2answers
352 views

Were there any battles in Continental Europe that were decided by “peasants with pitchforks?”

I can think of one such battle in the British Isles; the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 in Scotland. In that battle, a 14,000-man English army despoiled a bunch of "homeless" vagrants on their way to ...
8
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3answers
326 views

At the Battle of Zama, was the Roman army more “native” than the Carthaginian?

At the battle of Zama, which army had a higher proportion of native troops? Within the context of this question consider troops to be either "native" or "mercenary". Native troops serve out of ...
6
votes
3answers
322 views

Organized and intentional suicide attacks during military conflicts

First of all I want to make it clear that we're not speaking about terrorist attacks here. This question is strictly dedicated to war operations, in a dictionary meaning. Also this question is about ...
1
vote
1answer
130 views

Were Russian recruits ever chained?

This paper contains the following remark: Recruits were then marched off, without proper care, to a destination that might be hundreds of miles away; initially they were branded and even ...
5
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1answer
254 views

Was the battle of Stalingrad “unique” in the annals of history?

I'm referring to the fact that BOTH sides ordered their troops to fight for the city "to the last man and last round." (Hitler). The Soviet Union's General Vasili Chuikov echoed this by saying "We ...
8
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2answers
619 views

What uniforms did each of the American Civil War regiment wear during First Bull Run / First Manassas

During the American Civil War battle First Bull Run / First Manassas, regiments of both sides turned up in either the gray militia uniform or the blue 1858 regulation uniform, in addition to any ...
8
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6answers
522 views

What advantages have motorized infantry enjoyed over standard infantry besides speed?

My understanding is that motorized infantry have greater combat value than "standard" infantry (foot soldiers armed with rifles, or perhaps machine guns), over and above their greater mobility. Do ...
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6answers
9k views

Why have officers in the U.S. army tended to “top out” at the level of Major?

In the U.S. army, something like 75%-80% of newly-commissioned Second Lieutenants are promoted to First Lieutenant (around age 25), perhaps 75%-80% of First Lieutenants are promoted to Captain (ages ...
9
votes
1answer
481 views

Where did the design of the US Colonel insignia come from?

I've been trying to figure out why the insignia for a colonel in the U.S. military is an eagle. Obviously, there is the connection with the seal of the united states. But why is it used by the colonel ...
7
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5answers
960 views

How did a nomadic minority group the Manchus come to rule over China?

The population of the Chinese empire was about 120 times larger than the Jurchen tribe, who later renamed themselves to Manchus. Yes, the Manchus were very skilled warriors and the late Ming dynasty ...
3
votes
1answer
197 views

What is “quarter column”

I'm watching a documentary on the Boer War and apparently, during the Victorian era, the British Army commonly employed their infantry in "quarter column". I've tried to look it up, but can't find ...
3
votes
1answer
208 views

Riveted mail - flat or round rings? Die cut rings mixed with riveted ones?

I'm interested in the chainmail worn in the 14th and 15th century. As far as I know, almost all chainmail found in Europe has been riveted and woven 4 in 1. But I hear that there were chainmails made ...
16
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2answers
3k views

What did squires do in the middle of a medieval battle?

According to wikipedia, a normal squire daily job included: Carrying the knight's armour, shield, sword, Holding any prisoners the knight takes, Rescuing the knight should the knight be ...
3
votes
1answer
571 views

Missing link in the German tank development?

As you know, the Leopard 1 was not the first tank of postwar Germany. Germany work on different new tanks. There are prototypes as medium tank Indienpanzer (later developed into a Swiss KW30 and its ...
9
votes
1answer
150 views

Identification of a treacherous general of 17th century China

My aunt is part of an informal discussion group interested in the history of China. Apparently, during the Ming dynasty in the 1600s, there was a general whose treachery (I the charge was he was ...
12
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1answer
728 views

Did the Soviet Union know when DEFCON levels changed?

The US military uses a scale of alert readiness called DEFCON, with DEFCON 5 being the lowest alert level and DEFCON 1 being the highest, preparing for imminent nuclear war. At least once during the ...
14
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1answer
240 views

Are photos of WWII US Navy damage reports available online?

I have located a PDF of the USS Marblehead's Bomb Damage Report from 4 Feb 1942. The report lists plates of photographs which are not included in the report I have found. Do copies of this report ...
7
votes
1answer
228 views

What kind of armor did the soldiers use in pre-gunpowder Southeast Asia?

The tropical Southeast Asia (especially the Malay world, e.g. Malaysia/Indonesia) are very hot, and apparently wearing European-style full armor is very uncomfortable in hot climates. What kind of ...
12
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2answers
441 views

Was the Napoleonic era cavalry armour effective against firearms?

During the Napoleonic wars in Europe, many heavy cavalry units still retain the use of armours, for example, French Carabiniers-à-Cheval below, How effective were these to protect the cavalryman ...
6
votes
1answer
164 views

British way in construction of AFV

Why have British tanks not changed very much? The USA have moved from the VSS, VVSS, HVSS (Lee and Sherman) suspensions to the torsion bar suspension (T26 and Patton family), USSR - from twin bogies ...
6
votes
5answers
317 views

Historical examples of significant no man's lands between states in perpetual conflict

What are some historical examples, if any, of large-scale (say > 10000 km squared) "no-man's lands" between states in perpetual conflict? These states would be mutually hostile, firmly divided ...
14
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3answers
946 views

Was any significant percentage of Mongol army infantry?

Mongols of Khan's time are generally considered to be a cavalry army, which makes sense logistically, given the width and speed of their military maneuvers. But is there historical evidence of Khan's ...
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7answers
5k views

How severe were the casualties in ancient/medieval battles?

I've heard that in most battles prior to the introduction of gunpowder weapons, the casualties were usually very low (around 5% even in long battles) prior to the moment when someone's formation was ...
6
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2answers
250 views

Changing troops in first line during battle

I remember Caesar in De Bello Gallico mentioning Romans changing fighting/resting troops in some siege defense while Celtic attackers didn't do this and lost the battle because of it. This is just one ...
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3answers
3k views

How was Israel able to build a powerful military within days of the formation of the state?

The State of Israel was formed in May 14, 1948. I guess the first Arab-Israel war broke out in the same month of the same year. Israel won the war decisively. The question is not "How did they win ...
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2answers
1k views

Military brothels in WW2

Did any of the other belligerents of WW2 besides Japan and Germany provide their troops with authorised military brothels?
9
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1answer
199 views

Gengkhis Khan armor secret

Gengkhis Khan the king of the Mongolian Empire used a specific kind of cloth material for his military fatigues. This cloth material worked as an armor and was an advantage for his soldiers to win ...
15
votes
3answers
992 views

Was the US Navy larger in 1917, and if so, why?

Following the recent discussion in the third US Presidental Debate about the size of the Navy, there actually seemed to be a good discussion buried in there. How does the US Navy compare to its ...
11
votes
3answers
923 views

Why were there “hussars” all across Europe?

From what I read, hussars are originally a cavalry forces in Medieval Hungary. But then it became a class of light cavalry that were in service in many European nations, and during the Napoleonic ...
10
votes
2answers
399 views

What decides who goes in the front rank in a line infantry formation?

In an infantry formation, the front ranks seems to have much higher chance of being killed because they are exposed to the enemy front. This thread explains how soldiers are arranged in Roman ...
5
votes
3answers
455 views

What is the motivation of having heavy infantry to the right and light infantry to the left flank?

In Napoleonic wars era, a line contains mostly regular troops except for two kind of elite units, the heavy one, e.g. grenadiers, they normally are the bravest, strongest troops with the best stamina, ...
12
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2answers
273 views

In which situation is the broadside more preferable than every gun firing on their own time?

Mathematically, a ship should be able to fire more shots if each of the cannons fire at their fastest speed, instead of waiting for everyone to be ready, but it seems that a broadside is sometimes ...
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vote
3answers
307 views

Why Americans like to enroll in military services despite huge risks involved? [closed]

Working in US military is one of the riskiest jobs in America because of the regular engagement in battles compared to other military in the world. I live in a third-world country. Even in my ...
9
votes
7answers
469 views

Has there ever been an attempted military takeover of a democracy in the western world?

Ignoring the Spanish 1981 and Greek 1967 coups. Are there any other examples of the military attempting (or even managing) to overthrow an elected government in an advanced democracy in the western ...
16
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5answers
3k views

Why hasn't Russia maintained significant numbers of Aircraft carriers?

The United States has 11 aircraft carriers in total. Russia has only one. This is reflective of the past, in which we saw that the USSR also didn't put much importance on constructing aircraft ...
5
votes
2answers
211 views

Were there many instances when an “overaged” commander was at odds with a much younger second in command?

I can think of two. The first was at Stirling Bridge, in 1297 when the English outnumbered the Scots some 4 to 1, but the 72-year old English commander, John Warrenne, Earl of Surrey was not keen on ...
5
votes
1answer
180 views

Did the Carthaginians have the option of sending Hannibal to Sicily?

Sicily was a major focus of the First and Second Punic Wars. The first Punic war ended with Carthage handing over major grain-growing areas on the island, and the port of Lilybaem to Rome as spoils of ...
14
votes
7answers
6k views

Why did Nazi soldiers do Hitler's bidding?

The atrocities committed by Nazi soldiers during World War II are well known. I'd like to know what motivated those soldiers to do Hitler's bidding. Were they brainwashed? Did they believe they were ...
16
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1answer
867 views

Any notable battles fought with steel vs. bronze weapons?

In answering the question Was the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age violent I found out a few facts that I hadn't expected. Namely, that the early iron weapons weren't necessarily much ...
7
votes
1answer
448 views

What is the history of standing armies in India?

Specifically, the points I am looking answers to are: 1) What is the first recorded instance of a standing army in the Indian subcontinent. 2) When did it become a general practice to have standing ...
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2answers
2k views

How does the amount of equipment carried by various historical infantries compare?

I've heard many statements amount the weight of supplies and munition carried by soldiers of various historical forces. In particular, I've heard many comments about the amount that the British ...
8
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2answers
980 views

Why was the US so against Japanese aggression in China but did nothing about Germany in Europe?

The US was very vocal against Japanese aggression in China in the 1930's and early 1940's but said nothing against German aggression in Europe. The US finally placed an embargo on sending oil and ...
9
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1answer
932 views

In WW2, which midget submarine program was the most successful?

In WW2, which midget submarine program was the most successful? I know at least Great Britain and Japan had midget submarines and used them during the course of the conflict. Which WW2 combatant had ...
19
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2answers
2k views

How did Medieval Armies survive the use of mail armor in the deserts of the Middle East?

Something that has long puzzled me is the use of full mail hauberks and the like in the Crusades. How did Crusaders and their various enemies avoid cooking inside their armor? I know many of them did ...
5
votes
2answers
230 views

What is the origination of the Forlorn Hope?

Going back to a comment I had made in the question on What were the types of sieges something I had seen often referred to in the Bernard Cornwell Sharpe series was the Forlorn Hope. Basically these ...
8
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2answers
310 views

How many soldiers were present at the charge down Little Round Top?

The events of July 2, 1863 have been discussed endlessly, from Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels to the film Gettysburg. Since reading the book and seeing the film many times, I can't help but wonder ...
14
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8answers
3k views

What's the advantage of the infantry column formation in the Napoleonic Wars?

In movies/books set in the Napoleonic Wars, the British are normally deployed into lines and the French into columns. The columns are usually the advancing ones, charging into the line as the line ...
6
votes
4answers
158 views

Two Successive Coups?

Is there any country in which a coup has been overthrown by another coup? In specific I'm looking for a scenario in which: 1) A ruler was overthrown in a coup by person B 2) Person B left the ...
6
votes
1answer
176 views

Looking for info on an (epicly) failed British Special Forces mission

A couple of years back I read a Wikipedia article about a UK special forces mission. After a series of bad decisions, most of the crew got killed. I would like to be able to give these events as an ...